Monday, October 23, 2017

On The Run 17

The Ministry was an immense structure, almost a city unto itself. It ran for miles and had its own shuttle service, to ferry VIP's or technicians from one end to another. You could work there for years and not see all of it, and of course there were the restricted areas few did see. It was easy to get lost, and even easier perhaps to lose perspective, surrounded as you were by like- minded souls and never seeing the practical effects of your work. All of this ran through Eric's mind as he sat at a conference room table, waiting. 

Across from him Anna was looking at her datapad absently, but he could see she was distracted. Nervous, too. They had made it as far as the reception area before they were scooped up by security and whisked here, into a conference room over looking the courtyard. That felt like it had been hours ago. A carafe of water, some coffee, and lots of waiting. At one point McKittrick had appeared, breezing in with an armful of files, all business. Eric knew him vaguely, a mid-level functionary who was no doubt trying to round up whoever could really talk to them. 

"Look, is there a reason we can't report to our area? Why are we being held?" Eric had asked. 
"You're not being held. You're waiting," McKittrick had replied in that harried tone of voice he had. 
"Waiting for who, exactly?" Eric kept his voice calm. 
"Waiting. As in someone will see you when they can. You're not supposed to be here, you know," he lowered his voice conspiratorially. "You caused quite a stir coming in the front door like that. Weren't you supposed to sit tight?"
"Yes, we were," Eric replied. "And I'm afraid that's not acceptable. We come in, shot all to hell, missing three people, and we're told to sit tight? Seriously? What's going on?"
"Eric..." Anna started. 
"No, I get it.This takes time to sort out. It's been a couple days. I want answers." Eric couldn't keep his voice from rising. 
"Yes, yes, we all want answers. This doesn't just affect you, you know," McKittrick pointed out. "You were off visibility for a while, I'm told. Several days?" Raised eyebrows. 
"You could say that, yes. We were on Tantalus IV and it all went south. Anna and I..."
"Yes, wherever," McKittrick waved that away dismissively. "I'm more interested in where you were after that." 
Eric just sat there. "Yes, wherever" is where he had lost three people. He'd had enough. 

"You know what? Shove it up your ass, McKittrick. Get someone in here or I'm walking. And quickly." To be honest he didn't know where he'd go, he wasn't exactly playing from a position of strength, but he didn't care. Enough was enough. McKittrick sputtered on a bit more and then left in a huff. Anna was standing by the window, looking down over the courtyard, and just shook her head when he came over. 
"Well that's an auspicious beginning."
"Wasn't it though?"
"It's not really funny. We should have waited, like we were told to." 
"Wait how long? Until some security shows up at the apartment and we're... disappeared? No thanks. If they're going to hang us out to dry I want to be here and get some answers at least, beforehand."
"Yeah, me too," she sighed. 

The courtyard was the largest of several in the Ministry complex. It was immense, with parkland and trails, several ponds and even a landing pad for emergency traffic. Eric watched people coming and going, saw several air transports flit by, without really seeing them. He'd worked here now for nine years, he believed in the mission, had even met Anna here. And he wondered if he'd done the right thing, coming here unannounced, upsetting the apple cart.  They were obviously mixed up in something that went beyond surveying Gates, but what ? And why now, after several years of routine work? 

The door hissed open behind them and they both turned to see three people enter. Summers and Dana walked in, and their faces lit up when they saw Eric and Anna. Summers told the security guard with them that he could wait outside, it was okay, and he nodded curtly and left. Then there were hugs all around and lots of excited talking as everyone tried speaking at once. Finally Summers waved his hands, laughing, and said "Alright, alright, let's sit down and get right to it. We don't have long," he added, glancing at the door. 
"What does that mean?" Eric asked as they sat down. 
"It means we only have a few minutes before we have company. Why did you come in? We wanted you to sit tight, out of sight, until we could work some things out."
Anna looked at Eric with her eyebrows raised. Eric just sighed, holding up his hands. A smile toyed at the corner of Dana's mouth. Nothing more need be said. 

"Are you guys okay?" Dana asked. "We saw your debriefs but a lot of it was redacted."
"We're fine," Anna replied. "But what is going on?"
"First of all, we're sorry about your team. About... everything." Dana was clenching and unclenching her hands, looked at Summers, who nodded. "We didn't know, until too late."
"The word was that the entire team was lost," Summers added. "We were devastated. That's part of the reason they didn't want you here. Revising their story and all that," he said, rubbing his eyes. "As you know, surveying Gates hasn't exactly been controversial. In fact it was considered a legitimate use of resources. But things have changed. There's been a new find." He looked at Dana. 

"Right," she said. "A survey team came in  a few weeks ago, their report went to the highest levels. Apparently... they found another Gate. There's speculation that it's a master Gate." She paused, to let that sink in. "And things changed after that. Your mission was already a go, already approved. But we heard things. And you were already gone."
Eric and Anna exchanged a glance. 
"And now they're... erasing the survey teams, or what? And why would they do that?" Eric asked. 
"We don't know yet. We only know this much thanks to Moira. Who wants to see you by the way. She's going to reach out, I'm told."
"So she's not a part of this?"
"She is a part of it. She knows everything that happens, you know that."
"Nobody knows everything," Anna muttered to herself. 
"They're watching all of us now," Summers added. "As you can see from our guest," he inclined his head toward the door. "Supposedly he's with us for security reasons, but I'm sure he listens very closely as well." 

"So who is they?" Anna wanted to know. "Who are we talking...?
At that moment the door hissed open. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sunday Post #217

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

I had a good week of reading. The slump is most definitely over, and I think a lot of it has to do with all the releases coming out that I want. Nothing like a little anticipation! And The Shark Club, frankly, was so good. This weekend I'll be volunteering at the high school marching band invitational- one of the biggest ones in the state- should be fun. I did it last year and it was a blast. 

Riverdale is back in full swing and I'll be recapping the episodes again this season. I've been working on some Top Ten posts and one thing that really stood out for me was the number of new authors I've read this year. Especially since so many of them are new favorites, or at the very least an author I will watch out for. 

I review The Blackbird Season this week. On the Run 17 will be up Monday. 

The Shark ClubEverything But The Truth

Song of the week


Related image


Intrigue in Capri (Kindle Single) (An Amory Ames Mystery)Wild BirdWhat Alice Knew  


Electric Dreams is coming to Amazon Prime. Looks pretty good.  

12 hours(!) of ambient sound from Forbidden Planet. 12 hours seems a bit excessive, but it is good background.  

I was going to post this with my Top ten post last week, which was food related, but forgot to add it. Cracks me up the way he wipes his hands on his chest, then throws the bone aside for the oldsters to scrap over.  

Desert Camp


This one is a 360 degree view- click the link and you can look in any direction, up or down. I love the stormy, wintry feel. 

The Old Forest 

This week's writing prompt.

The rain came down, spattering on the pavement, as she made her way through the crowded market. She felt the eyes on her, they had been following her for several minutes. First one, then another. And then, as she turned the corner, she saw two troopers in body armor. They were on each side of the street, calmly looking over the passersby hurrying about their business, heads ducked low from the rain. Her pulse quickened and she pulled her hoodie a little closer over her face- not that it would matter, but she had to try. 

She was almost at the end of the street, hoping against hope that maybe they hadn't noticed her, that her followers hadn't reported her- when she heard someone call out. "You there. In the hoodie. Stop right there, and turn around. Real slow." Everything felt like it was in slow motion- the blinking neon, the bystanders scurrying out of the way, her own heartbeat- and her hand as she slowly, ever so slowly, reached into her belt and felt the gun there. She could run, or she could fight- either way she was dead. Time to choose. She still had her back turned as she heard them approach, heard them calling it in on their headsets. She didn't move, didn't take a breath, until she knew he was right behind her, reaching for her. 

She turned and fired. 

Freelancer (another one!)